Let’s Put It This Way…Fuck 2016

For anyone who has been around a good length of time, there are years that are remembered more fondly than others. For myself, there’s 2006, when I met my lovely wife; 2008, when we were married, and 20xx when we had our son. Then there are those years that are better left unsaid (mine was 1988 and let’s not get into why except to say that I came out of it a better person). With all of this said, there’s only one way to put the latest ‘trip around the sun’ and that is…fuck 2016.

There were two main areas that were ravaged over the past 365 days (and we’ve yet to actually reach New Year’s Eve, for fuck’s sake). One was the entertainment industry and, in particular, the music industry. When the year kicked off with the death of David Bowie (January 10) from liver cancer, it caught everyone by surprise simply because the very private Bowie had not informed the world he was in failing health.

A little more than a week later, another stunning death occurred. The Eagles’ Glenn Frey would pass away on January 18 following intestinal surgery and, by the end of the month, a band’s history was decimated by the death of two former members. Oddly enough on the same day – January 28 – Signe Toly Anderson, the original vocalist for Jefferson Airplane, and the former lead guitarist for the band, Paul Kantner, both passed away at the age of 74.

Arguably the most surprising death of the calendar year was the passing of Prince in April. “The Purple One” was found unresponsive in the elevator of his Paisley Park home on April 21, ending a charade that had been going on apparently for years. Bedeviled by pain from his strenuous and acrobatic performances over the last 30-plus years, Prince was found to have been using the painkiller fentanyl and overdosed on the powerful drug.

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The sheer number of deaths of legendary figures of the music world continued to mount throughout the entire year. Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire (February 4); Merle Haggard (April 6); Leonard Cohen (November 7); Sharon Jones, a fiery soul singer often called the “female James Brown” (November 18); two members of one band in Keith Emerson (March 11) and Greg Lake (December 7)…the legends that left had many music aficionados stunned into silence. To administer the coup de grace for the year, former Wham! front man and solo sensation George Michael passed on Christmas Day.

Add these in with the deaths of such acting icons as Alan Rickman (January 14), Abe Vigoda (January 26), Garry Shandling (March 24), Patty Duke (March 29), Gene Wilder (August 28), Florence Henderson (November 24) and Alan Thicke (December 13), sports legends like Muhammad Ali (June 3), Gordie Howe (June 10), Arnold Palmer (September 25) and former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt (June 28) and political figures such as Nancy Reagan (March 6), Elie Wiesel (July 2), Fidel Castro (November 25) and John Glenn (December 8), and even the hardest of souls would have to say that this has been a pretty devastating year (and we’ve barely scratched the surface of those who passed in 2016 – the awards shows this spring are going to be pretty somber affairs when it comes to the “In Memoriam” segment).

It is often asked why people get emotional over the death of entertainment figures, sports heroes or even politicians. It is because it is usually a link to our youth that has been snatched away from us by the talons of the Grim Reaper. Along with that past link, there is also the wealth of work that we will never hear or see those people perform again. In some cases, yes, the person has lived a full life…it still doesn’t make it easier on those who consider themselves fans of the person or their achievements in life to recognize the passing of the body but not the soul.

The other area that was particularly screwed up in 2016 was the world of politics (sorry if you were looking for something else). At the start of the year, it seemed that there were legitimate candidates on both sides of the aisle that would provide for a good choice for the citizens of the States of America. Then a narcissistic, xenophobic racist fascist stepped to the fore.

The man who would eventually become the GOP nominee was not challenged by his own party, partly because they thought he was a joke (and he is) but also because they thought that he had no chance to win. They also didn’t want to offend the “base” that flocked to him like lemmings off a cliff because that “base” was something they had taken a long time to create through their actions of the past 16 years. By pushing them away too hard, they would threaten their own chances when the GOP nominee fell out of favor.

The only problem with that was he never did. Instead of falling from favor, more members of the Ignorati came along for the ride. And because they could not coalesce behind an alternative member – one wasn’t conservative enough, another was too conservative, another’s family had been there before, another was too young, etc. – they allowed a travesty to take over their party. In fact, many of those stayed on the sidelines EVEN WHEN THEY NOMINATED HIM and thought that the Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, would be the one to take him down.

Through the mechanizations of many parts, Election Day instead resembled “The Purge” as the Ignorati worked such an unlikelihood that no one considered it possible. To win, the GOP nominee had to sweep at least four states – some combination of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida – to be able to win the presidency. The GOP nominee took six of the seven, with Virginia the only holdout. The margin of victory in those states amounted to around 100,000 votes and the GOP nominee would actually lose the popular vote to Clinton.

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Now we enter a world that, with Twitler in charge, is a much darker place. He continues to threaten different agencies, looking for the names of those scientists who have done research on climate change or women who have worked to advance women’s rights in foreign countries. He continues to harp on developing a registry for Muslims, threatening to enrage a religion that is the second largest in the world with 1.6 BILLION devotees. He also threatens to take us back to the era where a simple error – lost contact with command and control, a “broken arrow” of a stolen or misplaced nuke or a simple regime change in a country – could bring us to the brink of thermonuclear disaster.

The only way to stop such a despot is to fight on every corner, for every fiber and inch of earth that is possible. It will be more difficult in 2017 as the GOP has complete command of the government, but they now also have no fucking excuses when (and it will be when) things go FUBAR. There may be those who say wait for a couple of years to change the narrative, but the time is now to stop any forward momentum that the GOP nominee may think he has (which he is highly mistaken – there is no “mandate” as many members of the Ignorati have been claiming).

These were just the two jewels of the crappy crown that topped the Year 2016. With hope, we can put this year behind us and find better things going on in the New Year. Let’s blow the horns, rev up the noisemakers and tip the bottle of champagne…fuck 2016! It’s done! And let’s hope that 2017 brings us better circumstances than the previous 365 days has.

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The GOP Cannot Create Their Own Reality – Their Candidate Was Crushed on Monday

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It’s been almost 24 hours since the “Beatdown by the Bay” occurred. For those of you who might have been working and not among the estimated 80 million people who watched the first debate between 2016 Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Drumpf in Hempstead, NY, you missed what is normally a sedate exercise in civics and U. S. politics turn into a thrashing that was as lengthy as it was thorough. I thought PETA was going to run in at one moment to halt the activities because a grandmother was whipping an Orangutan Mutant mercilessly and wouldn’t let up.

The debate was supposed to focus on three issues (and to figure out just what moderator and NBC news anchor Lester Holt was looking for in these is open to interpretation): “America’s Direction, (my guess? What direction to take the United States in – one that embraces globalization or one that basically segments the world away from the U. S.)” “Achieve Prosperity (what will the candidate do to improve the lot for ALL citizens)” and “Securing America (what will the candidates do to ensure U. S. security at home and abroad).” From the start, however, it was obvious that Holt was not going to hold the candidates to those broad titles. With that said, it was the start that was the Tangerine Nightmare’s best moment.

While supposedly discussing “America’s Direction,” Drumpf got off on a tangent of how the different trade deals that the U. S. is involved in is hurting business. He scored some excellent points in the demise of industrial jobs in the Rust Belt and how the Obama Administration (and, by extension, Clinton, who spent four years with the team) had failed to help the area. He also scored points on Clinton’s support and then disavowal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement between the United States and 12 Asian countries (but NOT China, as Mr. Oompah Loompah has previously stated). Clinton couldn’t muster an adequate defense for her reversal of belief and Drumpf was riding high.

Then came the next 80-plus minutes of the debate…

From that point on, the evening turned into a nightmare for Cheeto Jesus. For one thing, C. J. snorted throughout the evening as if he had ingested the latest shipment of blow from Colombia. It wasn’t just slight sniffles; it was full-throated snorts of air through the nose that were picked up by the microphone that he claimed didn’t work. For someone that has berated his opponent on her health (which he did again at the end of the debate), it sounded like he needed a nasal cannula to assist him to get through the night.

Second, for someone speaking of “stamina,” he went to the water more often than a traveling tent preacher heads to the river. You might be able to write it off on nerves, but that would have to prove true all the way through the night as the split screen showed him gulping water like an out of ocean flounder. He also demonstrated that he had more tics than a Tennessee bloodhound, fidgeting on his side of the stage and airing his disdain for much of the proceedings through his facial expressions.

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These are nitpicky points, however. The real problem laid in the complete and utter lack of any coherent thought on ANY question that came from Holt or from discussion between he and Clinton. The “word salads” tossed by Herr Drumpf (probably from a gift provided by the previous champion of lunacy behind a mic, Sarah Palin) left those watching on television and those in attendance literally saying “What the fuck?” as he spewed the verbiage.

In response to a question from Holt on why businesses would go through financial repatriation under his Presidency, this is VERBATIM what the Orangutan Mutant’s reply was:

“They are going to expand their companies and do a tremendous job. I’m getting rid of the great thing for the wealthy, it’s a great thing for the middle class and for companies to expand and when these people are going to put billions and billions of dollars into companies and when they are going to bring $2.5 trillion back from overseas where they can’t bring the money back because politicians like Secretary Clinton won’t allow them to bring the money back because the taxes are so onerous and the bureaucratic red tape, it’s so bad.

So what they are doing is leaving our country and, believe it or not, they are leaving because taxes are too high and because some of them have lots of money outside of our country and instead of bringing it back and putting the money to work because they can’t work out a deal and everybody agrees it should be brought back, instead of that, they are leaving our country to get their money because they can’t bring their money back into our country because of bureaucratic red tape, because they can’t get together. Because we have a president that can’t sit them around a table and get them to approve something, and here’s the thing, Republicans and Democrats agree that this should be done. $2.5 trillion.

I happen to think it’s double that. It’s probably $5 trillion that we can’t bring into our country, Lester, and with a little leadership, you’d get it in here very quickly and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things, and it would be beautiful. But we have no leadership. And honestly, that starts with Secretary Clinton.”

Huh?

There were other examples of this travesty, but its plainly obvious that Mr. “I Know Everything,” like a star quarterback for a high school football team, didn’t even bother to crack the textbook and study for the exam. Meanwhile the bookish head of the student government was prepared, understood what the purpose for the gathering was and proceeded to beat Drumpf around the head and face. In fact, Clinton had the kill shot of the night in saying, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate…and yes I did. And you know what else I’m prepared for? To be President, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Clinton did everything just short of tossing a saddle on Drumpf’s back, grab a cowboy hat and ride him around the stage like Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. This isn’t even bringing up the 50+ times that it was counted that Drumpf tried his best debate tactic – interrupting his opponent while they are speaking – nor the continuation of his lies about his position on Iraq or, when the discussion turned to why he hasn’t released his tax returns, how much he pays in taxes (about having paid none in past years, Drumpf stated “that makes me smart” – no, that makes you a scumbag for not paying your part to such things as the national defense and other things you’ve taken advantage of). The thrashing was so thorough that Drumpf advocate Rudy “Mr. 9/11” Giuliani tweeted after the debate that it wasn’t the “best night” for his comrade and enhanced those thoughts earlier this morning in stating that the Orange Ouroboros shouldn’t take part in any more debates.

If there’s one final note to make on the first (and perhaps final?) debate, it is that the GOP can’t make up their own reality about how badly it went for their savior. Drumpf was roundly chided for trumpeting the results of the Breitbart survey of “who won” the debate (when the executive director of the website is DIRECTING YOUR CAMPAIGN, which side do you think they’re going to say won?). The only survey of reputable sites that even showed Drumpf pulling a slight edge out of the debate was Forbes; everyone else who was reputable had Clinton crushing him like a bug.

In fact, if you want to follow the old axiom, “follow the money,” then Clinton paddled Drumpf like a sorority pledge. Bookies moved the chances for Clinton to be elected from -170 to -245 after the debate, almost as sure a shot as you can get. Stock markets and currency rates around the world improved, indicating that Clinton’s overwhelming thumping of Dump wouldn’t cause the arrival of the First American Reich. Hell, even ADVOCATES of the Tangerine Nightmare have said he was beaten ruthlessly.

But virtually every supporter (that lacks a functioning brain) of Drumpf believes differently. They believe that he “won” outright and, if they don’t believe that, the old chestnuts of “rigged” activities or “he was going against TWO opponents (Holt was tough, but fair on both sides)” are dragged out and used. By the time Clinton spanked him again over calling former Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” (because of her Hispanic heritage), the night was a complete and utter disaster for the Queens Corporate Welfare Queen.

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The GOP cannot be allowed to craft their own narrative. Drumpf lost, plain, simple and painfully. Unless he plans on doing the actual work of being a Presidential candidate and studying for the debates – something that his “yes men and women (and that’s you, Kellyanne Conway – going from Cruz to Drumpf has to have left all sorts of slime on you, doesn’t it?)” are probably trying to pound through his narcissistic brain – then the second debate is going to be just like the first. Clinton will walk in thoroughly prepared – even for Drumpf’s threats of “saying something nasty” about her husband’s infidelities – and proceed to smack him around again.

We’ve got until October 4, when Vice Presidential nominees Tim Kaine and Mike Pence step up for what will be a scintillating (eye roll) debate, to discuss the opening salvos of the Clinton/Mutant clash. But a couple things are painfully obvious:  one, if he even wants to LOOK like he’s President material, Drumpf will have to do vastly better than what he did on Monday in the “Beatdown by the Bay,” and two, the lobotomizing of the GOP base is now complete.

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When Worlds Collide: Tonight’s Clinton/Mutant Debacle

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On Tuesday, the United States will be six weeks away from electing its next President of the United States. With this in mind, the Commission on Presidential Debates (yes, there’s actually such an organization) will be conducting four debates over the next 30 days or so. One of those debates will take place between the two men who are hoping that the person who chose them as their running mate dies a quick and painless death so that they are saved from a job that Texas’ John Nance “Cactus Jack” Gardner, one of the Vice President’s under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, called “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” The other three, unfortunately, will be contested between the Democratic nominee for President, former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Republican nominee for President, the Orangutan Mutant that is called Donald Trump.

Tuesday night in Hempstead, NY, NBC news anchor Lester Holt will be in charge of a 90-minute, no interruptions debate between Clinton and the Tangerine Nightmare, featuring their replies to the subjects that he has chosen. Those subjects for the debate have been gaudily titled (and completely non-descriptive) “America’s Direction,” “Achieve Prosperity” and “Securing America” (this is unless the aliens from Independence Day land on the major cities of the world – then Holt might come up with some other questions under the equally gaudy title “Aliens in America:  What to Do?”) and two 15-minute segments will be devoted to each topic. Both candidates will be required to respond to Holt’s inquiries and answer in a serious, straightforward manner…and if you believe that, you haven’t seen what’s been going on in the political arena for the last 18 months.

From the time the first candidate announced his intentions of running for President (can you guess who it was? Ted Cruz was the first major candidate to announce his intentions for the Presidency in March 2015), the 2016 Presidential campaign has been a shit show of epic proportions. The sheer size of the Republican cadre of candidates – eventually it would reach 17 nominees – ensured that, whoever emerged from the rubble, that person wouldn’t even have a plurality of support FROM THEIR OWN PARTY. Then there were the Democrats, who basically wanted to anoint a candidate instead of nominate them by running her (Clinton) against a few wannabes and never-weres.

As the poet Robert Burns wrote, however:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!)

Once the GOP clown car started reaching its capacity, along came pseudo-businessman Cheeto Jesus, who immediately shit in the punchbowl, smacked the hostess of the party on the ass and double dipped his chips in the guacamole. From the time he started his campaign – where he announced that Mexicans were “rapists, drug dealers…and some, I assume, are good people” – this misogynous, racist, xenophobic jerkoff brought the vilest excrement from the bowels of his twisted soul. A wall to block Mexicans that stretches across the entire Southern U. S. border…banning Muslims from entering the U. S., then dropping that to “just having a registry” for them…insulting veterans by saying that Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because “I like for my war heroes to not be captured”…saying that the usage of torture such as waterboarding was “mild” and we would have to do worse (what? Shove bamboo under fingernails? Flail the skin off the genitals?), including going after the families and children of “suspected” terrorists and enemy combatants. And THIS is just within the first few months of the announcement of his nomination…he’s since gone on to other lulus that defy description (a “test” of an immigrant’s knowledge and devotion to the country? That’s already done, you asshole…it’s called a citizenship test).

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Under normal circumstance, this lunatic would have been launched to the curb. But you know what happened? 14 million lunatics who hold the similar racist, misogynist and xenophobic ideas finally felt like they could come out of the closet and join Herr Drumpf as he looked to start the First American Reich (such newspapers and websites as Stormfront, The Daily Stormer and American Renaissance – all white nationalist or Nazi groups that represent the bottom of the bucket of humanity – all have announced their support). That 14 million people – a sizeable chunk of the Republican base – could think that such ideas are what the United States were built on is simply stunning in its ludicrousness. But, it worked for Mr. Oompah Loompah and he’s the nominee.

On the other side, Clinton was supposed to simply have to go through the motions and the Democratic nomination would be handed to her as a reward for her embrace of President Barack Obama after he defeated her in 2008. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation:  people started to look at other options.

Whether because of her long history in the nation’s consciousness (a Clinton has been a part of the federal government or running for federal office pretty much since 1992 – almost 25 years now) or because of her duplicitous nature (Clinton is always going to give just enough information but not give you a full description unless forced), Democrats looked to Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders, a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” caught the eye of many who, for the first times in their lives, were looking to elect someone other than a Bush or Clinton (remember, Jeb! Bush was running on the GOP side) to the Presidency (yes, I know Obama isn’t one or the other, but Clinton served in his Cabinet for the first term…we’ll count that).

Sanders would prove to be a proverbial thorn in the side of Clinton as he pushed for a progressive agenda that, instead of taking years to create, he wanted done YESTERDAY. In the end, Clinton would be able to parry away the assault of Sanders to earn the Democratic nomination and be ready for the challenges that the run for the White House present.

Thus, we come to a crossroads with two candidates who couldn’t be more despised by people both inside and outside their parties. These will be the two people who are the choices for the 45th President of the United States (sorry, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein). Thus, how will the resulting debate between the two work out?

Considering what occurred in the GOP debates, Drumpf is not a debater at all. In fact, his debate style could be condensed into a bullying, narcissistic cacophony of horseshit that flows from an entrance point on his face that doesn’t let up. It isn’t factual and it certainly isn’t worried about having to answer for being a lying sack of scum. In fact, the bar is so low for Drumpf that basically all he has to do is show up and not drool on himself to be able to allow his cabal – the “basket of deplorables” – to claim he won.

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Clinton, on the other hand, has to stand there and take whatever mockery that comes out of the Orangutan Mutant’s mouth and not reply. She has to stand there and present her extensive knowledge of virtually every aspect of running the country and, when Holt is finishing getting retouches on his makeup and eating a doughnut, try to demonstrate to him and the country that her opponent is basically a walking Lie Machine. Clinton could probably walk on water to open the debate, then be criticized because she doesn’t know how to swim.

Then again, we could actually have a debate between the two candidates. In that case, Drumpf has already lost – there is no earthly way that he can handle the high level discussion necessary to comprehend the issues presented – and Clinton will blast a hole in his candidacy the size of Australia. Then Commandant Drumpf will not show up for the other two debates (October 9 and 19, if you’re wondering) because he’s “being mistreated” by the press.

To call what will occur on Tuesday night a “debate” is a misnomer. It is better to call it what it will actually be – a debacle – because there will be nothing of substance answered, neither candidate will be called on their obvious lies or even the mildest “stretches of truth” and Holt will kiss both candidates’ asses rather than be a journalist and pose tough questions and follow-up questions (look at the bullshit titles for the segments and tell me that NBC wasn’t focus-grouping those for a couple months now). If we get the Drumpf of the GOP debates, he loses. If he as stated previously can keep from dribbling saliva down one of his Chinese-made neckties, then he’s “presidential.” There’s not a damn thing Clinton can do to make herself more “likeable” because 30 years of public exposure has already cemented the public’s opinion of you.

And that’s the sad thing. A debate is what happens when you want to learn the stances of two (or more) people who are running for office, what they will do once elected. Instead, the Presidential debates have become the latest sideshow of the swirling vortex of sewage that was once known as our political system.

So A Third Party Vote Isn’t “Wasted?” Take A Look…It Is

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With all the turmoil over the 2016 Presidential campaign – and the choice between a duplicitous but highly qualified Hillary Clinton and a raving nutbag of racism, misogyny and xenophobia in the Tangerine Nightmare (that’s right, I don’t even begin to name him – my choice), never in the history of the United States has there been a riper time for a third party candidate to make an impact. Because the two “major parties” have been unable to nominate someone who could, you know, actually LEAD the country, someone like the Libertarian Party or the Green Party could step in and fill the void. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Let’s take the Libertarian Party first. The only other party to actually be on all 50 ballots in the U. S., the Libertarians have reached a crossroads in their existence. Long viewed as the “hippie” party because of their views on legalization of marijuana and policies that put more into personal responsibility than governmental rigor, the Libertarians are actually the only party (other than the two major parties) to actually register a notable percentage of the vote in 2012; in that Presidential election, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson garnered 1,275,951 votes across the U. S. – roughly 1% of the votes in the election (and the best ever showing by the Libertarians).

When it comes to the 2016 Presidential efforts, however, the Libertarians took a page from the GOP playbook instead of…well, being Libertarians. Johnson (who had previously run for President as a Republican in 2012 and, after losing that nomination, suddenly “saw the light” and became a Libertarian), believing that he would be easily nominated again for the party’s Presidential ambitions, instead had to fight off accusations that he wasn’t “libertarian” enough (heard that somewhere before?) and that someone who was a “true Libertarian” needed to be chosen. In the end, however, Johnson and his Vice President pick, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, earned the nomination of the party.

Turning our attention to the Green Party, they have also nominated the same candidate that they chose in the 2012 election. Dr. Jill Stein, a longtime activist with the party, was selected in 2012 and garnered absolutely no attention from anyone whatsoever. How bad was it? In that 2012 election, Stein drew in 469,628 votes, less than the population of Brevard County on the East Coast of Florida.

Fast forward to 2016 and, instead of picking someone who might be a “fresh face” for the party, the Greens picked Stein again. The choice was made despite the factor that she has been viewed by many as anti-science and has tossed her hat in the ring with 9/11 conspiracy advocates (like the Orangutan Mutant). Party officials obviously were looking for someone and, lacking anyone with even the inkling of name recognition that Dr. Stein (who also offered her nomination to former Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders if he would just switch to the Green Party) had, decided to stick with her (these things have pretty much eliminated her from contention, much like Johnson’s Aleppo mistake and, just this last weekend, his contention that “nobody got hurt” during the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the knife attack in Minnesota, dismisses him as a serious contender).

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There’s several problems with looking towards the “third party” option in this or any election, but we will only deal with a few of them here. First, voting for a “third party” option is the waste of a vote (and, as you will see, the statistics demonstrate this); second, that a solid third party has yet to form; and third, that the other parties are not following a path towards success if they are trying to infiltrate the two party system.

First, if you are considering a vote for a third party candidate this year, take a look at the numbers. Of the elected positions in national government – the President and Congress – how many of those seats are held by the Libertarian Party? The total would be zilch. What about governorships in the United States? That, too, would be zero. You have to go to the state legislatures to even find a Libertarian, and that total would be four out of 7383 seats available. In local elected offices (of which there are tens of thousands of elected positions), there are only 145 wielding power.

What about the Green Party? They don’t even register on the national or state scene, with no elected officials in any national or state government. The Green Party does register about the same numbers on the local scene as the Libertarians – an estimated 137 positions – but there’s problems for the party overall. When it comes to actually getting votes, they aren’t even on the ballot in all 50 states FOR PRESIDENT, let alone running in other races.

The second point – that no solid third party has formed in the past 30 years – takes into account those parties that “stood alone” from the two party system, of which none have been successful. The Tea Party was a subset of the Republican Party (in fact, if the Republicans didn’t want to be in the situation they are now, they should have cut the Tea Party loose from the start) and the Dixiecrats were a subset of the Democratic Party after World War II (and they were eventually cut off by the Democratic Party). Those parties that tried to stand alone – Ross Perot’s Reform Party had a nice run in the 1990s before petering out after the turn of the century and there are individuals who choose “Independent” as their party (despite the fact there isn’t a “dedicated” Independent Party) – have never been able to grasp the public’s attention for very long.

The third point – that the smaller parties are taking the wrong approach – is an easy one to correct. Instead of trying to elect one of your members to the Presidency, why not try to make inroads into the local and state realms of government. Remember those numbers presented earlier? The numbers that showed that, of all the state and federal elected positions, that only four seats would be occupied by someone that identified as Libertarian and zero by Greens? The numbers that showed that, of local governments, slightly less than 300 seats were held by someone not affiliated with either major party?

If the Libertarian or Green Party were able to actually make an impact on the local political arena – instead of 300, how about 30,000 elected officials? – then they would be able to spark the changes that they seek on the state and national scene. Even if either Johnson or Stein were elected, do you honestly think that the Congress – dominated by the two major parties – would choose to work with them? It is something that has to grow from the ground up, not from the top down.

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It is thought that pulling the lever for one of the non-mainstream candidates will be a form of “protest,” of “voting on principle,” when it will in fact be a waste of your voice. By pulling the handle for either Johnson or Stein (or any of the other candidates who may emerge on your ballot for President), you are saying that, while you don’t like either of the major party choices, you also don’t want to be involved in the process of choosing from the two most likely choices someone who WILL be the next President of the United States (and yes, it can sometimes seem like you’re getting screwed, but at least you made a choice as to who would be screwing you).

Who do you want making the key decisions, not only for our nation but also for the usage of our military men and women, for the conduct of our foreign affairs, for the security of the nation, for the efficient operation of our government and for raising up everyone instead of a select few? By voting for a third party candidate, you abdicate your ability to make the choice – the compromise that our democracy is built on – and choose the future leader of the country.

With all hope, it won’t have an effect on the outcome of the race. In 2000, the Green Party’s Ralph Nader was able to garner 2.9 million votes, with some saying that it doomed Al Gore’s hopes for the Presidency (and remember that, in Florida, Gore is reported to have lost by 527 votes despite winning the popular vote nationally). In 1992, Perot ran as an Independent (he had yet to create the Reform Party) and earned a whopping 19% of the vote, arguably denying the first George Bush a second term in office (Bush lost to Bill Clinton by roughly 5.8 million votes; Perot earned 19.7 million).

The choice may be an ugly one, but it has to be made. A petulant display of “making a point” by choosing a minor party’s candidate isn’t a protest but an abdication of responsibility. Perhaps someday these parties will have worked to the point where they can challenge the current stalwarts of politics, but that time isn’t now. Thus, we have to choose from the two candidates who represent the major political parties and, after the votes are tallied, WILL provide the 45th President of the United States.

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The GOP: Ready to Party Like It’s 1799

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Despite the fact that more than half of their constituency would rather there be a raging dumpster fire in the middle of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, instead of the coronation of a dipshit as the party leader, the Republican Party will open its 2016 National Convention on Monday night. Yes, the Grand Old Party, the Party of such legendary statesmen as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, will (from appearances) nominate a fascist in Donald Drumpf, devoid of any actual governmental leadership, and his almost-as-fanatical henchman Mike Pence (we’ll get to him in a moment) come Thursday night. What will go on between Monday and then? That promises to be the intriguing question.

Political conventions, by tradition, are about as exciting as having your wisdom teeth removed, but they are also almost as old as the country itself. The first political convention was held back in 1831, when the Anti-Masonic Party (if you can’t guess, they were against the Masonic Order and its influence on politics – and we think we created some of those conspiracy theories!) met in Philadelphia to nominate William Wirt as its candidate for President. The National Republican Party (not today’s brand) also held its first convention in 1831 in Baltimore (nominating Henry Clay for President) and the Democratic Party held their first convention in 1832, also in Baltimore (nominating Martin Van Buren). The eventual winner of that 1832 election? Incumbent President Andrew Jackson, who crushed the opposition in getting 54% of the popular vote and obliterated the opposition in racking up 219 electoral votes (his closest competitor, Clay, received 49).

Since that time, the major parties in U. S. politics have met every four years to go through the process of nominating their candidate for the Presidency. As the years have gone on, these conventions have become a way for the individual parties to put on their best look for the citizens of the United States by showing off their up-and-coming leaders and portraying their ideals as the “future of America.” They have also shown the major problems that can occur inside a political organization, from outrage over the leaders chosen to actual physical battles on the floor of the convention and outside the convention hall.

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In 2016, the GOP didn’t even wait until the convention to fuck things up. They did that from the start following the 2014 midterm elections with a clown car assortment of 17 Presidential primary candidates that basically ensured that whoever emerged from the nomination process would be doing so without even a majority of the votes from PEOPLE IN THE PARTY. For all his crowing about drawing the most votes in the GOP primary, the Orangutan Mutant didn’t get more votes that the three men who followed him – Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich (who will not attend the convention of his party BEING HELD IN HIS STATE). This isn’t even counting the votes that went to other candidates, such as former Governor Jeb Bush, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham or “whatever the hell they do” candidates such as Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson (and this is just a part of the clown car), prior to their departure from the race.

Faced with the potential for a xenophobic, misogynistic and fascist candidate taking the helm of their party, many in the GOP have been looking for ways to get FAR away from Der Drumpf. Adding an intriguing possibility of the proverbial monkey wrench into the engine’s inner workings, these “Never Trump” people are fighting a battle on the platform and probably will stage some sort of demonstration on the convention floor at least one night of the gathering (and hopefully every night). Perhaps they can do it well enough that it will hide the embarrassment of the party for the way they are putting on their very own convention.

Because the convention has been beset with organizations and groups leaving it like rats evacuating a sinking ship, the GOP hasn’t got enough money to be able to pay for the week’s stay in Cleveland. The organizers for the Republican National Convention are groveling at the feet of conservative mega donor Sheldon Adelson for an influx of cash – about $6 million worth – to offset the costs for the convention. As of two days prior to the start of the “great celebration of conservatism,” Adelson has yet to respond to the letter.

Then there’s the actual platform that the GOP has pushed through. Instead of taking the approach that the party discussed in 2013 following the crushing defeat they took at the hands of President Barack Obama – including attempting to reach out to minorities, adjusting their stance on immigration and following a pro-trade path with the international community – the 2016 version of the GOP has decided to follow Drumpf in jackboot step. Some of the planks that have been put into the GOP platform make it look like they’re ready to party like its 1799, let alone 1999.

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First off is the idiotic suggestion from Mr. Oompah Loompah to erect a blockade wall on the southern border of the U. S. The GOP ACTUALLY IS ENDORSING this idea, although they don’t call it a “wall” but a “physical barrier” to be erected. This “wall,” which would cost upwards of $25 BILLION to build (and would never stand to Constitutional review, as Der Drumpf would have to take land rights from their legal owners to do it), is just the tip of the draconian immigration policy that would be pushed by the GOP (including deportation of 11 million people, as Drumpf has desired).

Next is the continued drive by the Republican Party to roll back LGBT rights, in particular marriage equality. This is despite the fact that their VERY OWN CANDIDATE said he would be “the best candidate” for the LGBT community. Also working its way into the platform was the GOP insistence on “bathroom bills” such as the one that passed in North Carolina, HB2, that mandates a person use the facilities of their birth sex. I personally want to see actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” looking Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the eye when they both enter the men’s room at Quicken Loans Arena – I’d bet that platform plank would be removed before the end of the night.

On international trade, the GOP has sucked up to the teats of Drumpf again, calling for “renegotiation of trade pacts” so as to “not allow foreign governments to limit access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents…and technology.” Guess who that little tidbit is aimed at? This is despite the factor that the trade pacts – such as NAFTA (now entering its third decade of existence) and the yet-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Pact, which has the support of both Democrats and Republicans – normally help to keep prices down (this isn’t to say they are entirely outstanding; a side effect is manufacturing jobs moving to areas that pay employees less).

The GOP and Drumpf have stated that the Convention with be a cavalcade of stars, including a “Winner’s Night” leading up to Der Drumpf being named commandant…err, I mean, the GOP Presidential nominee. This cavalcade of stars includes such names as Natalie Gulbis, the 484th best woman golfer on the planet (and, if you didn’t notice by the ranking, she hasn’t won much lately), actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. and actress Kimberlin Brown (and if you can name anything they’ve done, you have way too much time on your hands), not exactly the “star power” that you might like to help unveil your highly disliked candidate. Toss in his kids – who’ll be afraid to say anything remotely bad about Herr Father lest he disinherit them – and people Drumpf has been walking on for at least a year now (Christie, Carson and Scott Walker, for example) and it becomes a “who gives a rat’s ass” gathering of nothingness. (The four demon spawn of Drumpf equal the same number of sitting Senators who’ll speak at the convention.)

Then there’s the jewel that is Pence (told you we’d get back to him). Pence has shown himself to be just to the right of Genghis Khan in his ruling abilities. As Governor of Indiana, he led the drive for a religious segregation law that allowed people to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. But when queried about it by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Pence could not say that the new law wouldn’t prevent people from using it to discriminate against LGBT persons and that it was wrong to discriminate against them. EIGHT TIMES Pence was given the opportunity to say LGBT people shouldn’t be discriminated against and EIGHT TIMES he couldn’t bring himself to say those words. (Pence later signed a law that explicitly said the religious freedoms law could not be used to discriminate against anyone “regardless of race, gender or sexual proclivities”…but only after facing the withdrawal of a significant amount of business from the state.)

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Second, Representative Pence (member of Congress, 2001-13) was into shutting the government down over Planned Parenthood while Cruz was still handling the “dildo case” documents in Texas. Furthermore, during his tenure as Indiana governor, Pence pushed through the most heinous anti-abortion laws in the nation, including a law that made it mandatory that the aborted fetus had to have full funeral or cremation rights performed. Fortunately for anyone that is sane, the courts struck down that and other provisions of the Indiana law passed in March of this year before they went into effect.

You wonder why the “Trump/Pence” logo was fucking the United States? That’s what they’d do if they were elected. (They have since switched to just the names of the candidates and the idiotic “Make America Great Again” statement.)

The entirety of the Republican National Convention should be a train wreck, played out over national television as the GOP embarrasses themselves even further. With their unwanted leaders in Drumpf and Pence to their unwanted hangers-on in Christie and whatever D-list actor or politician wants to put their two cents in as to how great Der Drumpf is, it will be another week of embarrassment for the Republican Party. But that’s their standard they are bearing for the 2016 election…perhaps they’ll be ready the next time around, if they haven’t splintered into warring factions by the next election.

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We All Need to Do Better

I was settling in at my writing garret last night, ready to go off on a few things. My late night writing sessions (when I’m not writing about work) are a great way to relax and get some thoughts out of the system. The outlandish reactions by conservatives to the decision by Federal Bureau of Investigations director James Comey regarding the Hillary Clinton e-mail fiasco – which ran the gamut from mild bewilderment over the processes of legal decisions to the actual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, thinking that the entirety of the United States’ structure was crashing to the ground as a result of those same decisions – were where I had planned to go, but I was also considering a few thoughts on Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors (Larry Bird would have rather jumped off the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge than team up with Magic Johnson, just saying) or a general catch-all that I like to do every few months for things that don’t require a full essay. In a pinch, I could always go at Drumpf…much as it is for comedians, he’s a well of inspiration for essayists.

Then I looked at the television…

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First off, we have to set the stage for the actions last night in Dallas, TX. Earlier this week in Baton Rouge, LA, police responded to a complaint from a citizen that a man with a gun was threatening them outside a convenience store. Police responded to the scene and found Alton Sterling, a 37-year old black male selling CDs outside the convenience store with the owner’s permission. The police approached the man and all Hell broke loose.

Cellphone video from a couple in a car watching the altercation recorded the two police officers – who haven’t been identified at this time – take Sterling to the ground and, per their training, position their bodies on top of Sterling to allow them to further restrain him (it is unknown what was the cause for such action). At one point, one of the officers pulled his weapon, from appearances a .45 automatic or possibly a 9mm handgun, and sticks it in Sterling’s chest. Then there is the comment “gun,” and shots are fired. Sterling died on the scene.

Less than 24 hours later, arguably the more egregious of the two situations occurred. In a suburb of St. Paul, MN, Philando Castile was riding as a passenger in a car with his girlfriend (driving) that was pulled over because the vehicle had a broken taillight. Police approached the vehicle, with Officer Jeronimo Yanez approaching the passenger side and Officer Joseph Kauser the driver’s window. At one point, Castile is alleged to have told the officers that he was a licensed concealed carry permit holder and he was armed at that moment. From there, once again Hell breaks loose.

Castile’s girlfriend alleges that Yanez yelled two commands at Castile, one to keep his hands in view and one to present his licenses and identification. As Castile jerked around to try to obey the officer’s directives – to put his hands on the dash and reach for his wallet – Yanez allegedly opened fire FOUR TIMES (my emphasis), shooting Castile in the right side. Castile’s girlfriend recorded the immediate aftermath and broadcast the incident over Facebook Live, which showed an obviously seriously injured Castile bleeding profusely while the police held the vehicle for almost 10 minutes before any attempt at medical attention could be performed. Castile would die at the hospital roughly a half hour later.

With all that has occurred – or what hasn’t – in the past few years regarding the situation of police use of force, these new situations only cast kerosene on an already raging inferno. Many major metropolitan areas saw protests against such shootings by police on Thursday and, for the most part, many of these protests were peaceable and stayed on point without resorting to violence. Then there was what came on the television late last night from Texas.

Dallas, no stranger to tragedy in its past, saw one of the larger marches wend its way through the city in Dealey Plaza (history buffs might note the location). As the marchers protested peaceably with a large but equally peaceable Dallas Police Department watching them, shots rang out from a parking garage. Within minutes, a peaceful protest turned into a scene of chaos as people ran for cover and the police, the apparent targets of the shooter(s), took cover themselves to return the attack and protect the protestors (no irony here, for those of you waggling your fingers – that’s their fucking job).

As the hours wore on, the news channels all tried to outdo each other with “breaking news” details. The death toll of officers started at three, shrunk to one, went up to four and finally settled on five officers dead and another seven injured. Three people were arrested for taking part in the shooting, while a fourth was killed after a standoff with police in the parking garage from which he allegedly launched his side of the attack.

Now a nation is shocked…SHOCKED, mind you…that such mindless violence has taken over the streets of our major cities.

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We shouldn’t be. We are part of the reason that it has built up, not one faction or another, one party or the other, one race or the other. WE, the people of this country, have allowed for far too long the vitriol of separatism to infest our very fibers, to infest our thoughts, our speech and our actions. It can be seen across the spectrum, whether it is a simple comment on how much a professional athlete makes for playing a game (the racial animosity in some of the comment sections is a great argument for actual names being used to identify people), our political process (which seems to vilify every action of every person, not imbuing them with even a shred of humanity) or even our interactions with people who are tasked with defending and protecting us (if it wasn’t for the recent shootings, would relations be as strained with law enforcement? I think not…).

But we’re better than this and we’d better start showing it, otherwise there’s not much chance at settling things down.

We can first start with the police. There is an element in law enforcement who gets a Woody because they get to play “cops and robbers” for a living and they exercise that power whenever possible. There are also about 95% of those who just want to get the fuck home at the end of the shift to see their wives and kids. I’ve called for it before:  there should be yearly physical, psychological and financial review of all police officers, stretching even down to their social media usage, to determine that they are stable and suitable for duty. This should be ACROSS THE COUNTRY, from the largest departments to the “one stoplight” towns in rural areas.

Secondly, there should be two tiers of police created. There should be those that are tasked with interaction with the public, be it through traffic patrols (a traffic stop shouldn’t have to break out into a reenactment of the OK Corral), meeting visitors at the police department or other types of situations who would be unarmed. Then there should be a second tier, those who are tasked with taking on situations with active shooters, robberies and other “armed” situations who would be appropriately equipped. This tier of police is able to handle the responsibility that is given to them and act accordingly (I cannot claim original idea on this…a Facebook acquaintance actually proposed it and, to Scott, I say you’re dead on).

We’re not going to overlook the citizens of the United States on this, either. A simple way to start with things is to reemphasize to people that a command from law enforcement personnel isn’t the place to be arguing right and wrong (this is an argument from law enforcement apologists, but it is one that does make sense). If a police officer asks you to show ID, you show ID; if they command you to lie on the ground, get there as quick as possible. Escalation of issues come into play when people want to litigate it on the street corner rather than in a court of law.

Secondly, if the actions in Dallas don’t demonstrate it, it is way beyond time to enact some gun control measures. It is obvious that “concealed carry” isn’t a great idea as the Minnesota man was gunned down DESPITE telling officers he was licensed and carrying. The shooters in Dallas demonstrated great proficiency with rifles at long distances…why do civilians need to have such firepower at their disposal? And before anyone starts screaming “Second Amendment,” note NOWHERE there do I say they should be banned…although others have made that suggestion.

It is time that this country demonstrates what it actually should be – a country that, while a vast assimilation of widely divergent viewpoints exist, can actually work together on issues. This is across the board – politics, law enforcement interaction with the public, even common decency amongst each other – and should be something that we strive to do. We can be better than this, people…the alternative is appealing to no one.

The GOP Has an Opening…And They Should Take It

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Over the time I took my month-long break, the real reason became evident to me. After the Indiana primary, billionaire charlatan Donald Drumpf became the “presumptive” (and there’s a reason that is in parenthesis) nominee for the Republican Party and my brain basically shut down to be able to comprehend how 13 million people could be that idiotic. After violating every common decency of politics – remember his rant against Megyn Kelly, the “bimbo?” How about his damnation of former Prisoner of War and current Arizona Senator John McCain? (I’d go on, but you get the idea) – the GOP could not put someone up that could defeat a misogynistic, xenophobic fascist and serial bankruptcy whore (who also enjoys not paying his employees yet claims to be running for “the little man”) whose very ideas for “Making ‘Merica Grate Again” (intentional) is to round up 11 million people he views as “illegal,” keeping everyone from entering the United States that comes from a country that has “terrorist activities” (news flash, asshole…that’s pretty much every country in the world) and building a wall (for about $25 billion) that he has no clue how to pay for (you think Mexico’s paying for it? You’re a fool…). It seemed impossible that a party that once had such leaders as Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and even Ronald Reagan could sink to such depths.

Alas, the GOP did. As the last month has gone on – and Drumpf’s statements get more outlandish – Republicans have been doing gyrations on how to balance their “support” for the Orangutan Mutant while at the same time being able to distance themselves from him. Some, such as Senators Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, will basically break into a run to get away from reporters seeking their opinions on something Mr. Oompah Loompah has said. Others, such as Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, can’t even come up with a policy position that they AGREE with Drumpf. Even the leadership of the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, cannot triangulate their “support” of Trump with the gibberish that spurts out of his pie hole. It has actually gotten to the point where McConnell says at the start of interviews, “I’m not going to be commenting on the presidential candidates today.”

But the Orange Dictator has now given the GOP a way out…

During a rally in Atlanta on Wednesday, Duh Donald gave the Republicans every reason to toss him into the street. In his diatribe at the rally, Il Duce Donald basically said “get behind me or I’ll do it by myself.” He said that the current leaders of the GOP should just “be quiet,” else he plans to “go it alone.” “A lot of people thought I should do that anyway, but I’ll just do it very nicely by myself,” Trump said, though he did not elaborate on what doing it “by myself” would mean.

GOP! You’ve got your off-ramp!

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Now is the time that the GOP ought to look at the Orangutan Mutant and state, “OK, asshole. Run on your own. You’ve shown no interest in helping this party – hell, you continue to denigrate it with every word you utter – and, in fact, are threatening our hold on the Congress, the Senate especially and a large lead in the House. There’s the door, Little Donnie…and don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out!”

Every time that Drumpf opens his mouth, the Republicans have to go on the defensive about what he says. Take, for example, his verbal sewage over Federal Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel, the judge of record in the California fraud case regarding the vilified criminal activity that was Trump University, was basically lambasted by Drumpf over several days. The unbelievable lengths that the Cheeto from Queens took against the judge – stating that him “being Mexican” (despite the judge being a U. S. born citizen) biased him in the case, that a Muslim couldn’t hear the case either because of Drumpf’s idiotic statements – had the entirety of the GOP backpedaling faster than Aqib Talib against a wide receiver. They have to do this instead of pushing their agenda and, if they are able to dump Drumpf, then they could actually get about presenting their ideas than Drumpf’s Fantasyland of Delusion. (We won’t even get into how bullying Drumpf’s BS was as Curiel, as a judge, cannot comment on cases he is hearing or what someone says about him…that is the textbook definition of “bully,” much like Drumpf’s statements were the textbook definition of “racist.”)

When it comes to the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland, Ryan needs to step to the dais and say, “The delegates have been released from being bound to the candidate of their state’s selection. We are doing this due to the fact that the person who earned the most votes is unfit to be a candidate, let alone to be President. We also have to make sure that the tradition and honor of the Republican Party survives…with the person who received the most votes, we cannot do that.” Failing that, the GOP should just designate that they will not be nominating a candidate for President in 2016 and instead concentrate on something much more important to the RNC.

34 seats in the Senate are currently up for grabs in the 2016 general election. Currently holding an eight Senator advantage, the Republicans would have to win 21 of them to maintain that lead. According to Cook Political Report’s rundown on June 10, seven of those seats are tossups (six Republican, one Democrat), meaning that their margin of error is basically nil. The GOP cannot have a plague on the ballot like Drumpf and expect their advantage to remain unless they abandon the White House and concentrate on the Senate (and, to a lesser degree due to gerrymandering, the House).

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If the leadership of the GOP doesn’t do this, then they threaten to bring about the extinction of the Republican Party. Once considered the “statesman emeritus” of the GOP, even former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has succumbed to the sickness that the Orangutan Mutant has inflicted on the organization. In an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Monday, Gingrich – one of the more respected members of the GOP (for some reason) – stated that a newHouse Un-American Activities Committee” be created.

Now, for those of you without a history background, the group that Gingrich speaks of was initially founded to go after Nazis in the U. S. Once World War II was over, the committee then moved onto Communism, calling into question the patriotism of virtually everyone in the county. President Harry Truman denounced the committee in 1959, citing it as the “most un-American thing in the country today.” But it wasn’t until 1975 that the “Internal Security Committee” (as the HUAC had been renamed in 1969) was disbanded.

For a former member of Congress to promote the reinstatement of one of the vilest committee’s in the history of Congress – one that ruined lives with no evidence and that could censor anything it felt was “subversive” – it is just a further statement of how far down the rabbit hole the GOP has gone. It has all been because of their presumed nominee, Herr Drumpf, who has repeated the vilest things that can be stated by a presumed member of the human race. The GOP has the opportunity to distance themselves from him – either through not nominating him, nominating another candidate or “sitting out” 2016 – but the question remains whether they have the spine to do it or not. Since they cannot seem to be able to separate being a U. S. citizen from being the member of a political party, the question is a viable one.